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Phi. For passion's sake,
(Which I do serve, honour, and love in you)
If you will sigh, sigh here; if you would vary
A sigh to tears, or out-cry, do it here.
No shade, no desart, darkness, nor the grave,
Shall be more equal to your thoughts than I.
Only but hear me speak.
Leo. What would you say ?
Phi. That which shall raise your heart, or pull down
Quiet your passion, or provoke mine own:
We must have both one balsam, or one wound.
For know, lov'd fair,
I have read you through,
And with a wond'ring pity look'd on you.
I have observ'd the method of
And waited on it even with sympathy
Of a like red and paleness in mine own.
I knew which blush was anger's, which was love's,
Which was the eye of sorrow, which of truth,
And could distinguish honour from disdain
In every change: and you are worth my study.
I saw your voluntary misery
Sustain'd in travel ; a disguised maid,
Wearied with seeking, and with finding lost,
Neglected where you hoped most, or put by;
I saw it, and have laid it to my heart,
And though it were my sister which was righted,
Yet being by your wrong, I put off nature,
Could not be glad, where I'most bound to triumph :
My care for you so drown'd respect of her.
Nor did I only apprehend your bonds,
But studied your release : and for that day
Have I made up a ransom, brought you a health,
Preservative 'gainst chance or injury,
Please you apply it to the grief; myself.
Phi. Nay, do not think me less than such a cure ;
Antonio was not, and 'tis possible
Philippo may succeed. My blood and house
Are as deep rooted, and as fairly spread,
As Mark-antonio's; and in that, all seek,
Fortune hath giv’n him no precedency;
As for our thanks to Nature, I may burn
Incense as much as he; I ever durst
Walk with Antonio by the self-same light
At any feast, or triumph, and ne'er cared
Which side my lady or her woman took
In their survey; I durst have told my tale too,
Though his discourse new ended.
Leo. My repulse —
Phi. Let not that torture you which makes me
Nor think that conscience, fair, which is no shame ;
'Twas no repulse, it was you dowry rather :
For then methought a thousand graces met
To make you lovely, and ten thousand stories
Of constant virtue, which you then out-reach'd,
In one example did proclaim you rich:
Nor do I think you wretched or disgraced
After this suffering, and do therefore take
Advantage of your need; but rather know,
You are the charge and business of those powers,
Who, like best tutors, do inflict hard tasks
Upon great natures, and of noblest hopes ;
Read trivial lessons and half-lines to slugs :
They that live long, and never feel mischance,
Spend more than half their age in ignorance.
Leo. 'Tis well
Phi. You shall think so too,
You shall, sweet Leocadia, and do so.
Leo. Good sir, no more; you have too fair a shape
To play so foul a part in, as the Tempter.
Say that I could make peace with fortune: who,
Who should absolve me of my vow yet; ha ?
My contract made ?
Phi. Your contract ?
Leo. Yes, my contract.
Am I not his ? his wife?
Phi Sweet, nothing less.
Leo. I have no name then.
Phi. Truly then you have not.
How can you be his wife, who was before
Another's husband ?
Leo. Oh I though he dispense
With his faith given, I cannot with mine.
Phi. You do mistake, clear soul; his precontract
Doth annul yours, and you have giv'n no faith
That ties you, in religion, or humanity:
You rather sin against that greater precept,
To covet what's another's; sweet, you do,
Believe me, who dare not urge dishonest things.
Remove that scruple therefore, and but take
Your dangers now into your judgment's scale,
And weigh them with your safeties. Think but whither
Now you can go ; what you can do to live:
How near you have barr'd all ports to your own succour,
Except this one that I here open, love.
Should you be left alone, you were a prey
To the wild lust of any, who would look
Upon this shape like a temptation,
And think you want the man you personate ;
Would not regard this shift, which love put on,
As virtue forc'd, but covet it like vice :
So should you live the slander of each sex,
And be the child of error and of shame;
And which is worse, even Mark-antonio
Would be call’d just, to turn a wanderer off,
And fame report you worthy his contempt :
Where, if you make new choice, and settle here,
There is no further tumult in this flood,
Each current keeps his course, and all suspicions
Shall return honours. Came you forth a maid ?
Go home a wife. Alone, and in disguise ?
Go home a waited Leocadia.
Go home, and, by the virtue of that charm,
Transform all mischiefs as you are transform’d,
Turn your offended father's wrath to wonder,
And all his loud grief to a silent welcome ;
Unfold the riddles you have made.- What say you ?
Now is the time; delay is but despair ;
If you be chang'd, let a kiss tell me so.
Leo. I am; but how, I rather feel than know.
(This is one of the most pleasing if not the most shining scenes in Fletcher. All is sweet, natural, and unforced. It is a copy which we may suppose Massinger to have profited by the studying. ]
BONDUCA: A TRAGEDY. BY JOHN FLETCHER.
Bonduca, the British Queen, taking occasion from a Defeat
of the Romans to impeach their Valour, is rebuked by
BONDUCA, CARATACH, HENGO, NENNIUS, Soldiers.
Bon. The hardy Romans ! Oye gods of Britain,
The rust of arms, the blushing shame of soldiers !
Are these the men that conquer by inheritance ?
The fortune-makers ? these the Julians,
That with the sun measure the end of Nature,
Making the world but one Rome and one Cæsar?
Shame, how they feel Cæsar's soft soul dwells in them;
Their mothers got them sleeping, pleasure nurst them,
Their bodies sweat with sweet oils, love's allurements,
Not lusty arms. Dare they send these to seek us,
These Roman girls ? Is Britain grown so wanton ?
Twice we have beat them, Nennius, scattered them,
And through their big-boned Germans, on whose pikes
The honour of their actions sit in triumph,
Made themes for songs to shame them: and a woman,
A woman beat them, Nennius ; a weak woman,
A woman beat these Romans.
Car. So it seems. A man would shame to talk so.
Bon. Who's that ?
Bon. Cousin, do you grieve at my fortunes ?
Car. No, Bonduca,
If I grieve, 'tis at the bearing of your fortunes ;
You put too much wind to your sail : discretion
And hardy valour are the twins of honour,
And nurs'd together, make a conqueror;
Divided, but a talker. 'Tis a truth,
That Rome has fled before us twice, and routed.
A truth we ought to crown the gods for, lady,
And not our tongues. A truth, is none of ours,
Nor in our ends, more than the noble bearing :
For then it leaves to be a virtue, lady,
And we that have been victors, beat ourselves,
When we insult upon our honour's subject.
Bon. My valiant cousin, is it foul to say
What liberty and honour bid us do,
And what the gods allow us ?
Car. No, Bonduca,
So what we say exceed not what we do.